“I want you to take this cheque to a man called Murathe. Specifically to him. Make sure that it his hands that touch this envelop next from your. You will find him at Family bank Kenyatta Avenue. Is it clear?” Instructed a big man in a pure cotton shirt that was definitely not from a stall in Imenti house. He was looking at the young man in front of him as if he was sure that he would screw up.
“Yes. It’s clear.” Responded the lanky stripling. You could tell that he was nervous. Maybe because bosses just make young inexperienced people nervous. Or because he wasn’t getting what he was being told, and he did not want to say he was not getting, because he would look like an idiot. And he is not an idiot. But he said he understood. In fact he said “Yes. It is clear.”
So the lanky stripling put the envelope bearing the cheque into the back pocket of his jeans and walked out. As he approached the bus stop, he realised that he knew very well that he did not know where he was going, how he would get there and how he would make it back. He had also forgotten the name of the person he was to take the cheque to. He knew he was screwed. He could not imagine calling his boss and asking him to say the name again. The kind of boss we are talking about is not the kind that says things twice. He is the kind that speaks slowly and very clearly. He is also one who would make you shit your pants of you ever made him repeat anything. Have you ever shut (to mean past tense of shit) in your pants? Do you have an idea how dehumanising it is? Don’t even think about it. Anyway, here we have a cheque that must be deposited to a specific someone (with a very rare name; how does he even remember it himself?) who is in a bank in Nairobi.
This kid wanted to blame his forgetfulness on the afternoon sun. It was the kind that selectively burned the top-middle of ones head and even if you turned upside down, it’d still find a way of scorching your thoughts out. It must have had a hand in this mess. Or maybe blame his boss. Why did he have to be so scary? Why could he not just repeat things? Eventually, he decided to blame his big ears and tiny head. They always collude to make him look bad. The ears don’t listen and the head clears cache every two minutes. He was disappointed in himself, and he hung his head. But he remembered that his mother had taught him never to run away from a problem otherwise it would come chasing after him (at least this one had been saved in longterm memory). He decided to take any matatu so long as the destination was town.
Anyone who knows anything knows that no traffic beats South B’s traffic. Between the time you board and the time you alight, 3 big corruption scams have happened and ‘Social Media Influencer’ is an actual course in universities. So our lanky stripling used this time to try and remember the details of the instructions he was given. By the time he alighted, he had managed to remember that it was Family bank he as going to, and it was the one specifically on Kenyatta Avenue. The problem now was, where the hell was Kenyatta Avenue? How was he going to get there safely without experiencing the bad stuff that he had heard happen to people who walk the streets of Nairobi? Wait a minute, where was he even? All he could see was a tall green building (that today is called Afya centre) and many people (of course). This was going materialising to be what middle class people call a long day.
His mother had anticipated a situation like this. She had told him, “if you ever find yourself in a foreign place, walk straight as if you know where you are going. Take note of the landmarks and be aware of everything going on around you. When you see a decent building, enter and ask the guard at the door on the inside for directions.” I have always wondered how mothers always know everything. They are like guardian angels. Following this advice, he found and entered a Family bank. A few moments later he left, for it was what he knows now as Family Bank towers. This was messed up. Meanwhile, he was still struggling to remember the name of the person he was to give the cheque to.
He walked and walked. Walked past what he now knows is Kenyatta Avenue, down to City Hall Way and arrived at the only building he knew in Nairobi; KICC. At this point, he was drenched in sweat and he was dehydrated. And it was getting late. The banks would soon close. He had reached the climax of his frustration. He was was cursing (as he always does when he can’t do anything about a situation). How does one go home and face his children when he does such things as send a young boy to a dangerous city just because a cheque must be deposited? As if the cheque is all that mattered?
Fast forward and the lanky stripling finally found the bank, in one worn out piece. He went over to the customer care desk and explained his predicament to the kind lady seated behind it. He then requested her to mention all names of the who worked there and whose names started with an M. And she began..“Matt… Morris… Mwaura… and Mwangi.” But nothing there sounded like what his boss had said. Now he was sure that he was going to die. If this cheque was not received by the hands of the man his boss mentioned, then he might as well have to find a way to become that man.
Then, out of thin air, as if sent by the good Lord, a man with shoulders that made his coat look as if it had been hanged appeared. “Grace, kuna kijana ametumwa hapa na cheque aniletee?” Grace had not even loaded the answer; the lanky kid jumped up with excitement and handed him the envelop. The guy starred at the kid with almost no expression on his face. Then it changed to a well concealed disgust. Disgust marinated in a smile. As if mother Teresa had humbly but unknowingly served him a cup of tea with a fly in it. The kid suspected the guy didn’t like him. He did not even ask to know his name. But many people don’t like the lanky stripling the first time they see him. He is like oats; you can’t imagine enjoying him when you first see him but can’t have enough of him once you sample.
Meanwhile, Grace had started narrating the events that had happened before Murathe appeared. Yes!! His name was Murathe! Our young kid repeated it in his head over and over again that he almost forgot what his was. He thought it would be a good idea to have Murathe’s number. But before he could even open his dry mouth, Murathe started walking away. Then when he was about to disappear into a room over there, he turned and while looking at the kid he said to Grace, “Hawa vijana wa siku hizi ni bure tu. Hakuna kitu wanawekanga kwa akili zao. Ni wasichana tu na bangi.” At that point, the kid confirmed that he was Murathe’s least favourite person.
Later that evening, my mother could not resist telling me how bad my memory is. She started reminding me of those “leta nyanya za twenty, kitunguu ya ten , hoho ya thirty, dhania ya ten na makaa ya 50 na usisahau ka omo ka 20” moments. She would always got completely different things from what she ordered. She went further to end my day and my story with the following blessing;
“Wewe ni samaki tu!”